The agency world, like many professional services, is full of small differences and limited brand awareness. Agencies are pitching new business often and the ability to win more than an agency’s “fair share” is critical to profitability. The ability to run a compelling pitch – especially in a competitive setting – is critical to a high win rate.
Given that we’ve run hundreds of agency reviews and are in “the meeting after the meeting” with client decision makers, we’ve learned what agencies should do and not do when staffing a pitch.
There are three key rules that help ensure you have a prospect centric group pitching the business.
If you don’t have a speaking role, you shouldn’t be in the room. Clients want to hear from the people that may work on their business. When an agency person sits through a pitch without speaking, clients often assume that the agency lacks confidence in that person. And it begs unnecessary, distracting questions like “why is that person in the room”?
Of course, these agency executives need to know their craft, understand the client’s business challenge and be able to professionally present. Agency leadership’s job is to invest in the talent and training needed so that their teams can effectively represent the agency.
Clients fear being “pitch teamed”. A pitch team is a senior, talented team that largely will not have hours in the agency’s SOW. The “pitch team” shows up and wows the prospect with their knowledge, expertise, charm and presentation skills. The presentation can be incredibly compelling. And it is also the essence of “bait and switch”.
Clients want to hear from the team that will work on the business. In the agency model it is hard to have confidence that an exec will really pay attention to your business if that exec is not on your SOW.
There is one exception – the senior agency leader that opens and closes and asks for the business doesn’t have to be in the expected SOW. Clients appreciate their special role and don’t expect to have that person in the SOW.